Adelaide Music Wiki

The Shaolin Afronauts is an ARIA nominated Adelaide-based instrumental Afrobeat ensemble that is styled after Fela Kuti's Africa 70 band and Sun Ra. Their music incorporates elements of avant-garde jazz, soul and traditional African and Cuban percussive rhythms.


The group was founded in 2008 by Ross McHenry out of a fascination with Afrobeat and creative improvised music. The band began their life as a support for The Transatlantics before branching out to play their own shows. Over the course of a few months, the group solidified with a core of twelve band members and expanded their repertoire of original songs. Over the next few years, the band's presence grew; in 2011, they were booked to play the WOMADelaide festival in South Australia and had already seen extensive touring throughout the country.

Later in the same year, they were signed to Freestyle records and saw the release of their debut album, Flight of the Ancients. The album was featured on Radio National Breakfast and garnered considerable attention on community radio, streetpress and Triple J.

In 2012 The Shaolin Afronauts released their second album Quest Under Capricorn on Freestyle Records. The album was recorded with an expanded ensemble of 18 musicians in January 2012.

Their third release in 2014, which followed performances in Japan and at the Glastonbury Music Festival, was titled Follow the Path and was released as a double album. They also won 'best roots act' at the Fowlers Live Music Awards that same year.


Current members

  • Ross McHenry - Bass
  • Kevin van der Zwaag - Drums
  • Dylan Marshall - Guitar, Synthesizer
  • Lachlan Ridge - Guitar
  • Jarrad Payne - Percussion
  • Chris Weber - Trumpet
  • Stephen McEntee - Trombone
  • Jason McMahon - Saxophone

Previous and occasional members

  • Jon Hunt - Bass Clarinet, Baritone Saxophone
  • Adam Page - Tenor Saxophone, Flute
  • Derek Pascoe - Tenor Saxophone
  • Andrew Crago - Saxophones
  • David van der Zwaag - Percussion
  • Joel Prime - Percussion
  • Tim Bennett - Percussion
  • Brenton Foster - Rhodes, Synthesizers
  • Luca Spiler - Trombone, Bass trombone
  • Chris Soole - Saxophone